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Album Review

Sweet sounds from R. Kelly

(Matthew J. Lee/ Globe Staff/ File)
November 30, 2009

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R&B
R. Kelly Untitled
Jive
ESSENTIAL “Echo’’

R&B’s maestro of carnality hits the sweet spot with his best record in years - a focused, expertly executed suite of songs. His subject? This is R. Kelly, folks. Sex, sex, and sex.

Forget the salacious material; you come away from “Untitled’’ marveling at his craftsmanship. When he’s on his game, no modern R&B artist even approaches the Chicago veteran (here working with various producers). On songs like “Echo’’ and “Go Low’’ (which isn’t about a man doing the limbo), the arrangements are tight and the melodies delicious.

He simply glides on the groove with “I Love the DJ’’ and adds a twist of old-school funk to “Be My #2.’’ Who else but Kells can tell a woman that she so fine, but she’ll never be his number one? “Number One,’’ a duet with Keri Hilson, is sure to be a hit, with two of the finest voices in pop taking the song to a higher plane. “Text Me’’ is going to be the new playa’s anthem, as Kelly sits at home sipping Patrón waiting for that text with “something freaky’’ describing how he can take care of his girl.

“Untitled’’ is devoid of his sentimental anthems that marred his opus records, but there’s a straight-up, affecting love song, “Religious,’’ that goes to that other organ he seems to care about: his heart. And there are a few misses, too, including the club-oriented “Supaman High,’’ which never takes flight.

Still, this is a master class that will be studied by all of R. Kelly’s disciples. (Out tomorrow) -- KEN CAPOBIANCO